Tag Archives: bush

Republican Candidates Running Away from Trump. And Phyllis Schlafly.

… and why we never got the Equal Rights Amendment.

Donald Trump is a very good Republican candidate. In terms of both style and substance, Trump does a good job of representing that part of the Republican Party that has been in charge of that party for several years, the Tea Party. The Republican Party has built itself up to become, effectively, the majority party in the US by pandering to this part of the base, along with gerrymandering and other forms of voter suppression. So, really, there is no reason that Republicans running for office around the country should be upset with the fact that Trump is the frontrunner in the nomination process. If they were smart, they would embrace Trump, run on his coat tails, and win.

But the candidates may be running away from Trump anyway. One possible explanation for this is perhaps found in contrasting the Bush Dynasty, which has been central to Republican politics, or played an important role, for decades. The Bushes are a different kind of Republican than Trump, and from the Tea Party. They are the connected establishment Republicans who manage that interface between big money, mainly energy money (including the Saudis and the Kochs and all of that) and the political process. Trump may be seen as a wrench to be thrown in that carefully engineered machine. Naturally, established Republicans would prefer someone like Jeb Bush to be the nominee, or really, anybody other than Trump, because they are all nicely tied in and the status quo of a majority party fully connected with energy money, buttressed by absurdly right wing social policy, can continue and strengthen.

Nice theory. But the background is distant and deep, and the evolution of Republican politics, the Bush Dynasty, social conservatism, and establishment GOP politics is a bit more complicated and interesting. For some of this background, I refer you to this interesting item by Rachel Maddow:

I’m going to add two things to this, which won’t make sense unless you watch the video. 1) A lot of young liberal progressives actually supported Goldwater in those days because a) he wasn’t part of the Democratic political machine (the Democrats were not so much about democracy in those days) and 2) not only did Nelson get divorced, but he was quietly understood by New Yorkers to be very much of a carouser, drug user, and general all around bad guy, despite his clean looks and well spoken manner. I don’t know how true that all was, but it certainly lubricated the transition from beloved centrist to moral reprobate in people’s minds.

(Also, the war, and the politicians positions on it, was important and complex in those days.)

Trump, The Others, and A New Test of the Hypothesis

A couple of days ago I assimilated data from a bunch of on line polls where people could informally and unscientifically express their opinion about who won the GOP debate (the big boy debate only, with ten candidates). I suggested a series of hypotheses to isolate the idea that this sort of on line unscientific effort might reflect reality, with the idea of testing the results of those polls with upcoming formal polls.

Now we have a couple of formal polls to test against. I took the raw percentages for the ten GOP big boy debate candidates, recalculated the percentages, and came up with the standings of those candidates in the more recent scientifically done polls. The polls are by Bloomberg and WMUR. The former is national, the latter pertains to New Hampshire, which will have a key early primary. Here is the relevant graphic:

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 10.50.08 AM

We see verification of Trump being in the lead. His performance during the debate was liked by a large majority, and he is the leader of the pack, still by a large majority, by those subsequently polled. What appears to be a drop is more a factor of the difference between asking who won the debate vs. who one would vote for.

There is a big difference, though, in the back field. Bush and Walker were in the lower tier of the back field in people’s response to the debate, but are moving into a shared second place.

So, two things. First, Trump is still winning, and really is winning, the GOP race. Second, unscientific online polls seem in this case meaningful. The polls initially gave uncannily similar (not random) results, and the application of a more scientific methodology verifies them.

I quickly add this. This is not a prediction of who will win the GOP nomination, or who will win the election for President.

Nate Silver makes some excellent points about this question in this blog post. The bottom line is that polling at this stage, or even well into the primary process, does not predict either outcome very well. But I think Silver also misses an important point. These polls are not meaningless. If you view them as having only one function, predicting primary or general election outcomes, they are useless. But they do something else.

Polling at this stage in a presidential race is not about who is going to be President. Rather, such information is a good indicator of what people are thinking, how the politics are operating, how campaigns are doing, what issues are motivating people, and all that stuff. If you see polls early in the process this way, they are interesting. If you want to know who will be on the ballot in November (next November, not this November) or who will win, then … well, no.